Rally Liepāja has its first hat-trick hero following Nikolay Gryazin’s victory on round two of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship season.
Gryazin, who also won Latvia’s ERC counter in 2017 and 2018, led from the opening stage to claim a hugely impressive victory alongside co-driver Konstantin Aleksandrov in a Pirelli-equipped Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
He finished 17.3s ahead of Craig Breen, who landed Team MRF Tyres’ first podium in the ERC in second with Alexey Lukyanuk extending his ERC title lead in third place.
“After problems in Poland finally we are here,” said Gryazin, 24. “We did a good job, no issues, no problems. For the last part, I could relax because when you have a gap you can drive through. Everybody in the team did a good job and it’s always nice to win your kind of home rally.”
With three victories under his belt, Nikolay Gryazin is the most successful driver in the history of Rally Liepāja. This is what the 24-year-old Movisport driver had to say following his latest FIA European Rally Championship victory for Sports Racing Technologies.
A Rally Liepāja winner in 2017, 2018 and now 2021. How pleased are you with this latest in a long line of career achievements?
“It’s a good achievement after all of our disasters in the last races when we had some issues, so it’s really nice to be here. I would say it’s really tough competition this year because in 2017 and 2018 I was pushing but compared to this year the time has improved so much. For sure this year it’s really, really nice competition, the fast drivers are coming and like [Andreas] Mikkelsen told at the last stage, the roads are even more difficult than in Finland so I hope we’ll see this event in the future in the WRC calendar.”
Several young drivers are really coming to the top in the ERC, including you. What does that say about the championship?
“I was really pleased with the pace of my team-mate Miko [Marczyk] and also [Efrén] Llarena, how they did this weekend was really nice. I would say all the rookies, the youngsters like me also are really pushing, and it’s nice to see such tough competition. You can’t even relax your ass! You need to be on the pace all the time and if you hit something or spin you will not be in the first place. It’s good and it’s the same as WRC because you can’t make a mistake because someone will overtake you.”
What are the chances of more ERC appearances this season?
“For sure I will come for some more ERC because I plan to win here some more races. I can’t say about the whole season because in some moments it will be tough to prepare for ERC and WRC together but let’s see what points we’ll have after the planned races to see if we are able to play for the ERC championship.”